The Ford Focus RS is probably the most anticipated new sports car to come out in the last few years that isn’t called Corvette, Mustang, or Camaro. And unlike some cars that we’re promised and never seem to get, the Focus RS is well on its way to us – Ford’s even running commercials during NFL games. But until it hits showrooms, the automaker is tantalizing us with details that are just making life without the RS that much harder. This week, Ford released even more details about its hottest hatch ever, and to say we and just about every gearhead on the planet can’t wait is the epitome of an understatement.
It can simply be summed up by this: 350-350. That’s 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. To put that into context, a base Focus SE five door hatch has 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet. More to the point, the Volkswagen Golf R has 292 horses and 280 pound-feet, the Subaru WRX STI has 305 horsepower and 290 pound-feet, and the soon-to-be late Mitsubishi Evo X MR has 291 horses, and 300 pound-feet. On top of the already leaked news that the RS will start at $36,605, will scramble from zero to 60 in 4.7 seconds, and top out at 165 miles per hour, this instantly makes it one of the best performance bargains in the world, and the undisputed king of the hot hatchbacks.
Until this latest statement, Ford had been conservatively projecting the RS’ output at 315 horsepower. With this news, however, it throws down the gauntlet to other cars in the segment, and with its rivals in disarray, don’t expect the Blue Oval to slow down while the competition plays catch up. Volkswagen is in shambles, and current CEO Matthias Mueller said all projects “that aren’t absolutely vital will be cancelled or delayed,” meaning a newer Golf R is at best a few years off. Mitsubishi has consigned the Evo to history at least for for now, and with a refresh for 2015, Subaru probably won’t update the WRX STI for at least another year or so.
But if the devil’s in the details, then the RS should make for one hell of a performance car. On top of its sheer power, Ford has developed a number of Bond-worthy gadgets to keep the RS running circles around its competition. This newest release detailed a stall recovery feature, which will keep the manual-only RS from shutting down should the sheer joy of driving an RS prevent you from actually starting off the line. From Ford:
“We knew we wanted to put start-stop technology on the RS,” explained Tyrone Johnson, engineering and vehicle manager, Ford Performance Europe. “So we said, ‘What if we went one step further, and controlled for engine stall at launch using the same technology?’ Well, that’s exactly what we did and it’s just as fast as our start-stop technology.”
So if the engine stalls out, simply push in the clutch immediately, and you’re right back in the action. This joins the car’s “Drift Mode” function, which supposedly does exactly what it sounds like – and frankly sounds way too fun to be legal. Kudos to Ford’s engineers for slipping that one past the lawyers.
So there it is: Ford’s 350 horsepower, 350 pound-feet torque five-door hatchback is designed to tolerate ham-fisted driving, engineered to shred tires going sideways, and can still fit a washing machine in the back with the seats down. And it’s priced the same as a well-optioned Chevy Impala. If that isn’t enough to tempt you into a Ford dealership, we don’t know what will.
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